Are Nigerian Youths/Graduates Really Unemployable?

Written by Robin Okwanma

Of recent times, there has been a notion that Nigerian youths are lazy and unemployable. Is this really true? Are Nigerian Graduates really unemployable? Why has talk like this been going around so much even on a global scale? There are many questions that rises with this topic and in this article we will be shedding some light on these questions.

To address this question, we’ll try to make it sound as simple as possible. There are two major kinds of labor in the labor market; Skilled and Unskilled labor. As of today there are over 20 million unemployed graduates in Nigeria. This is an alarming level of unemployment in the country and there is no specific well defined reason. 20 million unemployed youths is enough cause for alarm.

What Qualifies you as a Graduate?

A graduate is any individual who has successfully completed education in a University, Polytechnic or College. The higher institution must be recognized and an appropriate degree awarded to the individual. Every year, thousands of students graduate from universities all over Nigeria. This release of fresh graduates add to the over-saturated labor market after all, education must go on.

In 2014, it was recorded that about 520,000 unemployed Nigerian graduates stormed different recruitment centers to apply for 4000 advertised vacant positions in the Nigerian Immigration Service. That means for every vacant position, there were about 130 applicants. On the day of the aptitude tests, about 16 graduates died from a stampede as a result of the crowd at the venues. Sadly, no sanction was imposed on the then Minister of Internal Affairs, Abba Moro, by the President in seat at the time, Goodluck Jonathan. Instead, automatic employment slots were awarded to the families of the deceased as a form of compensation. This is just a scene to show haw bad the unemployment issue is in Nigeria.

Also Read- Dangote Refinery ; The Nigerian Mammoth

What Really Caused This Unemployment Issue?

As we said before there is no “one” specific cause of this crisis, there are multiple reasons from multiple sections even down to the graduates themselves. Lets take a look at some of them;

Poor Government Decisions

This is probably the biggest issue so far as basically any Nigerian you ask will not fail to point this out. The Nigerian government has failed to make standard decisions to tackle this dangerous case of unemployment among youths. Laws can be put in place to ensure the ratio of employed Nigerians vs employed foreigners in every organization remain in the favor of the country.


Corruption, a very common quote among Nigerians as it is used by many government officials in campaigns “fighting corruption”. So you may argue, isn’t it still corrupt government? The real answer is the issue of corruption has spread well beyond government. Every single sector down to the employees in many organizations no longer employ qualified individuals. This popularly known as the “man know man” problem.

Underqualified Graduates

These two words might seem to contradict each other, doesn’t being a graduate qualify you? To go straight to the point, not all graduates are able to gather much knowledge on their field of study. Take for instance, a mechanical engineer with little or no practical knowledge in his or her field. There is no way that graduate will be favored in the labor market. The major cause of this is poor institutions and poor educational system in some parts of the country.

The Experience Barrier 

If you are a graduate who has recently searched for employment, you’ll encounter a very common problem. There are too many organizations that require job seekers to have a high level of experience in said field. When you need 2-3 year experience to apply in a job it leaves fresh graduates with little chance of getting the job. Organizations usually use this as a method to reduce any form of training cost they would have to spend on an employee.

Investments and Startups in Foreign Countries

The issue of Nigerians not investing in their country is actually a real problem. Many citizens decide to start up a big organization a choose to create it in another country for various reasons. But this act gives employment to citizens of whichever country the industry is built. In recent times government, celebrities and other entrepreneurs have encourages Nigerian business tycoons and investors to bring their investments home.

There are many more factors that contribute to the unemployment crisis in Nigeria but the above mentioned are the most common.

Why are Nigerian Youths Seen as Unemployable even on a Global Scale?

The true source of this statement or allegation comes from very peculiar reasons. Crime rate and corruption especially in the case of fraud among Nigerian youth sky rocketed in recent years. Many individuals and even organizations from all over the world have been duped of their money by Nigerian youths. Some of these fraudsters have been caught over the years and it has painted a bad reputation to Nigerian youths in general nationwide and world wide.

Another source of this criticism has been from the government as during announcements, statements like “Nigerian youths are lazy” have been said by high government officials. Statements like this do not go unnoticed and tend to create some sort of image to the country and the rest of the world.

And finally, the education system in Nigeria especially public institutions fail to impact the required knowledge especially practical aspects to under graduates. This is because of lack of funding and corruption amongst people in power.

Are Nigerian Youths Really Unemployable?

The truth is, NO! Irrespective of all the situations mentioned above, Nigeria has millions of unemployed graduates and million of them are qualified and deserve a decent opportunity to show their skillset. From another point of view, there is no excuse for the case of fraud but, unemployment and poverty caused by unemployment is the biggest cause of crime and fraud in Nigeria or any country for that matter. Nigerians in general are naturally hardworking and would go the extra mile to achieve success. This is a major reason Nigerian youths are easily recognized in any environment they find themselves. In time, hopefully, the unemployment issue in Nigeria will be duly handled and Nigeria will rise to greater heights.


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About the author

Robin Okwanma

Hi, I'm Robin Okwanma. Software Engineer || Django, Python || React, React Native || Blogger. Technical Writer.

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